The banker and the butcher who have given ginger beer a taste makeover

Father and daughter, Kevin and Rachel Byrne, are the co-founders of Zingibeer

“Refreshing and sophisticated,” is how Rachel Byrne, co-founder of brewing company, Zingibeer, describes their launch product which is a modern take on old fashioned ginger beer.

“Zingibeer is made with fermented ginger, lemon zest and botanicals which gives it a strong flavour profile and makes it a great alternative to beer and to cider, which some people find too sweet,” adds Byrne who set up the company with her dad, Kevin, in 2021.

Rachel Byrne is a banker – rather than a brewer by background – while her dad is a butcher (formerly of Byrne’s sausages) who was an experienced home brewer long before he gave up the meat trade, moved into the hospitality sector and began producing craft beers in small volumes for the licensed trade.

“My dad developed the recipe and brewing process for Zingibeer having seen a growing demand for the drink while working in the trade,” says Byrne who spent five years with AIB as an SME adviser before moving into treasury and trade solutions with Citibank where she spent another five.


“Dad could see what was – or, rather, wasn’t – available when it came to a choice of ginger beers and that set him on the path towards making one based around all-natural ingredients with no artificial colours, flavours or sulphites,” Byrne says.

“The market here has been dominated by imported bottled products and Dad was very keen that we should be able to offer Zingibeer on draft as well and we’re the only brand currently doing so. As a result, we’ve found that Zingibeer attracts customers of all ages and genders and, while alcohol can never be classed as ‘healthy’ per se, our product is designed to appeal to the growing cohort of clean label focused consumers. The product is also gluten free and vegan friendly and offers consumers a lower food miles alternative to UK imports.”

Byrne says that 10 years working in banking prepared her well for setting up her own business. “It was always something I wanted to do and I was inspired by how passionate people were about their start-ups,” she says. “When Dad started developing the product, I was his guinea pig as he tested different recipes and then I started helping with the branding and gradually became more involved. I had spent years looking at other people’s business plans and cash flow projections so I had built up a lot of experience in business operations and finance and that side of things didn’t intimidate me at all.

“We also had my Dad’s experience of manufacturing and running his own business coupled with his brewing knowledge and he had also identified a very clear niche for us. So, it felt like the timing was never better for me to give up the ‘steady job’ and see if we could make it work. So far, so good. We’re revenue generating and our customer base is building really well.”

Early small batches of Zingibeer were made at the company’s base in Smithfield but the Byrnes quickly moved to outsource production in order to scale and grow sales quickly. Funding for the start-up came from a business loan of just under €100,000, personal savings and support from Dublin city LEO.

The company has been through the SuperValu food academy programme and Zingibeer is now stocked in roughly 30 of the company’s stores around the country and in about 20 Tesco outlets. Byrne is currently taking part in Foodworks, a joint initiative by Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Teagasc, designed to get Irish food and drinks start-ups export ready.

Byrne says the next step will be to employ a sales rep to raise the company’s profile further in the marketplace, while over the next few months, she is planning a sales drive into Northern Ireland with other export markets to follow.